Top 5 Beaches in Hawaii to Catch Some Rays and Waves

As an island surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, it’s not at all surprising that Hawaii is known for its amazing beaches and one of the main reasons to go to Hawaii in the first place.

And if you’ve ever looked at pictures of this beautiful state, you’ve probably dreamed several times of stretching out on one of those beaches.

However, if you’re beginning to plan your vacation to Hawaii, the question quickly becomes: Which beach?

There are hundreds! And while you can rarely go wrong when it comes to beaches in Hawaii, here are the top five!

Maui's Secret Cove Beach - Hawaiianly

1. Kailua Beach Park, Oahu

A local favorite beach spot, Kailua Beach Park has all the makings of a perfect Hawaiian beach.

Pristine, white sand. Clear, blue water.

There are plenty of water activities and places to explore along the two-mile shoreline of Kailua Beach Park. Unlike several other beaches closer to tourist hot spots, Kailua is much less crowded and has a more laid-back feel.

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Several locally-owned shops along the shore offer gear rental, so you can snorkel, visit some fantastic Oahu dive sites, parasail, kayak, or windsurf, even if you’ve forgotten your gear.

Locals and families prefer Kailua because it has convenient parking and facilities, which is not always the case around the island.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can kayak from Kailua Beach to Flat Island, a four-acre island that’s 1/4th of a mile offshore from Kailua. It’s a favorite spot to rest after kayaking or surfing, and its perfectly flat surface makes it easy to walk over and explore.

Kailua Beach Park is the perfect place for a day trip. It has restrooms, picnic tables, rentals and is close enough to restaurants that you won’t have to wander far.

Most importantly, the beach is gorgeous, and the water is clear, with calm waves that make it perfect for young swimmers. But, it also offers challenges for the more adventurous beachgoers.

2. Hamoa Beach, Maui

Often I get the question – Which Hawaiian Island has the best beaches? – and it’s hard to bet against Maui and Hamoa Beach.

A public beach located near Hana, Hamoa is a smaller beach that is very much worth the visit. Its mixed sand flows into clear water, a favorite for local surfers.

Sandwiched between cliffs, Hamoa is a thousand foot long beach that Hotel Hana Maui maintains, so it always looks pristine. With trees and brush lining the edge of the beach, it offers a perfect amount of shade if you need a break during your visit.

Hamoa is considered family-friendly and has restrooms and showers onsite. If you’re staying at Hotel Hana Maui, a shuttle that will drop you off at a staircase that leads down to the beach.

However, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this strip of beach. There’s public parking, too.

Hamoa Beach is great for wading, snorkeling, and surfing. This beach has been used for hundreds of years by locals as a place for surfing. You can still see locals there surfing, and it’s worth it to stop and ask them any questions you might have.

One of the best secrets about Hamoa Beach is that it shares an edge with Mokae Cove, another little beach.

While I would not suggest weak swimmers do this, you can swim over to Mokae Cove if you’re up for an adventure. Before heading back the more maintained Hamoa Beach, you can enjoy some alone time.

3. Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai

The largest bay in Kauai, Hanalei Bay Beach is breathtaking.

There are very few places in Hawaii that aren’t beautiful. But framed by mountains and turquoise waters, Hanalei Bay is something special.

The sand here is perfectly white, and there isn’t a day that goes by that snorkeling and surfing lovers don’t visit Hanalei Bay Beach.

Because the bay spreads out over an ample space, it offers different water landscapes, making it perfect for those who want to try several activities in one day. Several coral reefs off the bay can entertain snorkelers for hours.

Hanalei Bay Beach Kauai

Near the center of the bay, there are sandbars that swimmers can take breaks on if they get tired. Another side of Hanalei Bay has a section of calmer water for families with young children or those who come for the view.

Of course, there’s plenty of surfing opportunities throughout the bay too.

Hanalei is straightforward to get to and has plenty of public parking. If you’re interested in spending extended time there, you’ll be glad to know they have restrooms and showers.

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4. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Hawaii (Big Island)

For those who can’t get enough of visiting the beaches of Hawaii, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area offers cabins for campers. And, considering how beautiful Hapuna is, one day might not be enough.

Hapuna is a vast beach covered with soft sand, giving plenty of space for beachgoers to spread out.

Hapuna has decent waves that are not very rough, which is perfect if you want to spend some time snorkeling or doing more casual swims. It’s also an excellent opportunity for those wanting to practice surfing or bodysurf.

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Because it also provides facilities for campers, Hapuna Beach has all the facilities you could ever need for a day trip.

There’s plenty of parking and access to the beach is easygoing. There are toilets and showers, plus several picnic areas if you bring your lunch.

5. Waikiki Beach, Oahu

A little different from the other beaches on this list, Waikiki is one of Hawaii’s most famous beaches. It’s a tourist location, so there are always plenty of people to share with, but it is worth sharing.

While Waikiki is a beautiful beach with Hawaii’s renowned clear water and white sand, visiting it will allow you to see dozens of different Oahu attractions. All with the beach in the background.

Waikiki has a strip full of stores and restaurants, so you don’t have to wander far from your chair to take a break from the sun and sand.

There is always lots going on, with singers, comedians, and other forms of entertainment taking place all within walking distance of the beach.

However, Waikiki is still a Hawaiian beach, and it still offers some of the best surfing and canoeing on the island. There are plenty of places to take lessons, and you can even rent gear if you’re interested in trying other water activities.

At Waikiki Beach, you will never get bored, but be Hawaiianly and use your eco-friendly reef-safe sunscreen while you’re there!

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